Joon “Gentle” Maeng may look like just another young driver on the Formula Drift circuit, but don’t let his appearance fool you. He has been through many ups and downs, and a number of cars too. This year brings a new beginning and a fresh start for the South Korean. His personal Lucas Oil / Mav TV sponsorships were renewed, and he is now joined by Nexen Tires to take on the competition, managing his own program with the help of Road Race Engineering. Reliability is key to success in the unforgiving world of drifting, and his latest Nissan S13 chassis has been conceived from the ground up with that in mind.
To play with the big boys, a basic four-cylinder engine wouldn’t cut it. Maeng’s team knew this and went a different direction, swapping a Brodix 8.2-liter LSX V8 into the front of the sport coupe and tuning it to put out a whopping 800 horsepower and 750 lb-ft of torque. The power is managed through a dog box transmission and ACT clutch and flywheel, transferring into a brand new Weir Performance rear end. The LSX is the fatty tuna in this sushi combo, so let’s breakdown exactly how the team at Westech Performance obtained such insane results.
Starting with the block, the Brodix unit is all-aluminum as opposed to the cast-iron version that GM offers, making it lighter and smoother to operate. Brodix also provided some high-strength cylinder heads that, when coupled with JE pistons, keep everything bolted together without fear of catastrophic failure. To mount the engine in the foreign bay they turned to the Sikky motor mount swap kit, designed specifically for S13 applications. The LSX output is good by itself, but for serious gains the team turned to Holley Performance and added the EFI Hi-Ram manifold kit. Consisting of a monstrous plenum, throttle body and fuel rail system, it makes the car look more like a hard-charging rhinoceros than a mild-mannered hatchback. The manifold is fed by a custom K&N filter on the front end, while JBA Performance headers and a custom two-to-one exhaust by Road Race Engineering handle things on the back side. Finally, a Meziere Enterprises water pump and Lucas engine oils cool down the party during Maeng’s tire-destroying runs.
The exterior is unlike any you’ve seen before. No, we didn’t misprint images in this article, you’re seeing it correctly – like the Dark Knight villain, there are two sides to this drift machine. Painted by Sam’s Auto Land, the driver side of the car features a red Lucas Oil stripe set, while the passenger side is predominantly white and blue for Mav TV. The team carries multiple sets of Varrstoen ES2 wheels coated in black, white, or dark ruby, adding to the illusion of two cars in one. The wheels are wrapped in Nexen’s latest N9000 rubber compound, providing insane levels of traction at the front for steering, but just the right amount of give in the rear to light up at a moment’s notice.
Under the two-tone paint scheme, Seibon carbon fiber body panels keep things lightweight, and the hood was chopped to make room for the crazy Holley manifold. Formula Drift cars are required to have working headlights for the night events, and this S13 features lazy eye-style covers with lights suitable for a Johnny Five robot. In the rear, Spyder Auto taillights and an APR wing finish off the look.
Drift cars can’t just look good on the surface these days, they also need a kick-ass stance to fit the bill. Enter FEAL’s 411 drift-spec suspension, a fully adjustable shock and spring set to help manage everything from camber to ride height. The coil-overs and custom Bink Industries sway bars let Maeng dial in just the right firmness for each track. On the steering side, Powered by Max steering components allow the front wheels to reach near 90-degree angles. Drift cred? Yeah, this S13 has got that.
Maeng’s car wouldn’t be a full on racer without an interior to match. It has a 1,000 watt sound system with 10 speakers and... Just kidding. The only soundtrack necessary is the one created by the burnt Nexen tires. Aside from a set of Sparco Rev seats, Sparco steering wheel, a six-point harness and roll cage, the cabin is pretty much stripped out. Being an old-school guy, Maeng gets by with a few simple gauges from Autometer and APEX’i. In motorsports, the fewer distractions there are, the better. This S13 is totally focused, and so is the driver, inside and out.
Ask fans about Maeng, and the same phrase is offered up without reservation: ‘He is the nicest guy in drifting.’ A genuine fan of his supporters, Maeng stays late after each event to sign autographs for anyone and everyone that stops by his pit. But competitors know they can’t be off guard by his kindness, and nice guys don’t always finish last. Like his Lucas Oil Mav TV Nissan S13, there are two sides to Maeng’s personality, and one of them takes drifting very seriously. His passion shows in each run, so be sure to check him out as the Formula Drift series makes its way across the U.S. this year.
Vehicle: Nissan 240SX (S13)
Driver: Joon Woo Maeng
Team: Lucas Oil Mav TV Nexen Tire
Engine: 8.2L LSX V8
Horsepower: 800 hp
Torque: 750 lb-ft
Brodix 8.2L (498 ci) LSX all-aluminum V8 engine (assembled and tuned by Westech Performance)
Brodix cylinder heads
Holley Performance (EFI Hi Ram intake manifold, fuel rails)
K&N intake filter
Meziere Enterprises electronic water pump
Aeromotive A1000 fuel cell/pump system
Sikky LSX swap motor mounts (CNC-machined billet aluminum)
Lucas engine oils
Sam’s Auto Land (paint and body)
Seibon Carbon carbon fiber body panels
Spyder Auto taillights
APR Performance carbon fiber rear wing
Road Race Engineering roll cage
Sparco (Rev Grp Tech race seats, 6-point harness, steering wheel)
APEX’i (oil pressure gauge, water pressure gauge, EL meter control unit)
JBA Performance wrapped headers
Road Race customer 2-1 exhaust
Dog Box transmission with custom gear ratios
ACT clutch and flywheel
Weir Performance rear end
Chassis / Suspension
Powered by Max steering arms
FEAL 441 Drift Spec coil-overs
Custom Bink Industries sway bars
Wheels / Tires / Brakes
Varrstoen ES2 wheels – 17-in. (f), 18-in. (r)
Nexen N9000 tires - 265/40 ZR17 (f), 275/35 ZR18 (r)
Nissan brakes (four-piston calipers (f))
Wilwood brake components (f/r)
Lucas Oil, Mav TV, Nexen Tire, Road Race Engineering, S-Empire, Nexus Visuals, Sam’s Auto Land, Aeromotive, Holley Performance, LS Auto, Enjuku Racing, Brodix, ACT, JE Pistons, Westech Performance, APR Performance, JBA, SPARCO, Varrstoen Wheels, Seibon Carbon, Rockett Fuel, Meziere, FEAL Suspension, Powered By Max, K&Nt.